By on January 8, 2018

2000 Chevrolet Metro in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Starting with the Chevrolet Sprint in 1985, General Motors sold rebadged versions of the Suzuki Cultus all the way through the 2001 model year. For the 1989 through 1997 model years, these cars were sold as Geo Metros; after the demise of the Geo brand, they became Chevrolets.

Unlike most miserable econoboxes, the Metro’s decades-long reputation for frugality has kept it on the road for longer than most of its competition, and 21st-century examples are very rare in wrecking yards. Here’s one in a Denver self-service yard.

2000 Chevrolet Metro in Colorado wrecking yard, speedometer - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
I looked for a 2001 Metro for quite a while, since I enjoy photographing final-year-of-long-production cars in junkyards, but had to settle for a 2000. This one averaged well over 12,000 miles per year over its lifetime, and still looks pretty clean.

2000 Chevrolet Metro in Colorado wrecking yard, engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
A four-cylinder engine displacing a cavernous 1.3 liters was available as an option for much of the Metro Era, but this car has the penny-pinching 1.0-liter three-cylinder. The four-banger was good for 79 horsepower in 2000, but this car had just 55.


At least it has the five-speed manual transmission, which reduced the misery level somewhat. I once owned a can’t-pass-up-this-deal cheap 1996 Metro with the four-cylinder and automatic, and it was dangerously slow.

2000 Chevrolet Metro in Colorado wrecking yard, hood emblem - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The later Metros were built in Ontario by the Suzuki-GM CAMI partnership, so this patriotic gas-sipper is pure North American.

2000 Chevrolet Metro in Colorado wrecking yard, HVAC controls - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Air conditioning was available in these cars, as can be seen by the block-off plate for the A/C button.


Harlan Ellison liked this car very much, if we are to believe this commercial for the final Geo-badged Metros.


In Japan, these cars weren’t considered incredibly small, but they were still pitched to the frugal.

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27 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2000 Chevrolet Metro Hatchback...”


  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    I had a 1986 Sprint Plus, it was bought used when I was in college and gave me roughly 60,000 trouble free miles……until the timing belt broke and the engine ate itself. The little 1.0 litre engine made it to 145,000 so I really couldn’t complain at the time. Top speed was somewhere in the 75-80 mph range, acceleration was leisurely with the 3 speed automatic it had, no A/C but it did have a radio…..with 3 speakers.

    Overall, it was a good car for college and the first years afterward when I needing transportation that cost me virtually nothing.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I remember reading the newspaper (London Free Press) in the 90s talking about CAMI being on the verge of closing because not enough people were buying Swifts/Metros/Fireflies. Memories…

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Cultus would be a good name for a metal band. Cutlass was a good name for a car.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Stickshift cars without tachometers make Baby Jesus cry.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Why? Sure they’re nice to have, but in a basic little economy car or small truck, there’s enough NVH and feedback from the motor for you to easily tell when it’s time to upshift or conversely drop a gear. I remember in highschool I had a tachometer on my automatic ’90 Civic Wagon and I thought it was really neat. My buddy with a ’95 Corolla DX (likewise auto), did not have such a luxury and went through the trouble of swapping over a cluster from a car that DID have a tach. Of course it also had an odometer with a higher reading.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Considering that nearly all VW Beetles fit that description, that’s a whole lot of tears.

      Up until maybe 1980, tachs were mostly found in sporty cars or heavier duty trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      AlfaRomasochist

      Based on personal experience with these Metros you really don’t need a tach. You downshift when the car starts slowing down – say from a 1 MPH headwind, or a quarter percent grade – then upshift as soon as possible to keep the 3 cylinder paint shaker from jumping out of the engine bay.

      • 0 avatar
        Aron9000

        That looks way too clean to be in the junkyard. Not a spec of rust, body looks super straight. This would have been a good shell to start a wacky build with. Swap in a Honda K motor, 200hp in that little sucker that weighs about 1900lbs, it would really scoot.

        Or maybe if you want to keep it all Suzuki, a Hayabusa engine/gearbox under the hood. Shift linkage would be interesting with the sequential motorcycle engine, I guess use the stock lever, bump it up for downshift, pull back upshift.

        • 0 avatar

          @Aron: I agree with your assessment, but I’m seeing small flecks of rust on the nose and a bit of rust on the lower edge of the trunk lid. Easy to take care of certainly. Makes you wonder why it ended up where it did.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    The favorite car of parts delivery drivers and LabCorp sample pick up drivers.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I still see these now and again, which says something about their general reliability. I knew several folks that used these as rural commuters from the late 90’s into the mid-aughts, running them up to 300,000 miles or so.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    I know someone who neglected his mercilessly. Still kept on running. Tough as nails in a lightweight way. Probably a hit in developing car markets.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In early 1987 I negotiated the purchase of a 3 cylinder, auto Sprint for one of my brothers who was finishing school and needed a reliable vehicle. His knowledge of autos and auto maintenance basically ended at knowing how to put gas in the car. A couple of times a year I would change his oil, filters and check the fluid levels. He put on a lot of miles over a period of about 4 years and it never once let him down or caused any problems.

    Eventually he sold it to a friend who drove it for about another 3 years.

    These were ‘honest’ cars in they never tried to be more than they were and were very good and what they were intended for.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I once rented one of these in Florida. The 1.0 three banger had enough spunk even with the AC on, though I never had a chance to see how it made it up hills. It did handle quite well on the mostly flat streets which I attributed to the independent rear suspension something that most subcompacts or compacts did not have. Overall a decent vehicle.

  • avatar
    carve

    That’s a lot of miles to spend in a penalty box with less power than most motorcycles, but if all you care about is getting from A to B cheaply this is a great car.

  • avatar
    azmtns

    My father used an early 90’s version with auto and air to get around his junk yard. He preferred using it to a golf cart. The thing was a total beater but it just kept on going.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    People were paying over $7,000 for these back in 2008.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/05/20/geo.metro/

    I’d venture to guess they aren’t going for that kind of scratch these days.

  • avatar
    Clay

    It’s funny, seeing this, as I drive this exactly model and year almost everyday. It’s amazing around town and useless on a highway with hills. It’s surprisingly fun to drive, but for all the wrong reasons.

    –Should be noted that the last year for hatchback was 2000. The sedan made it to 2001 (I think).

  • avatar
    DougD

    Nice to see one again. Back in my machine design days I worked on the fixture that held the doors against the car so the hinge pins could be put in on the assembly line at CAMI.

    My employer recieved a pre-production body shell and were sternly warned to keep it under cover and secret. We decided that nobody cared and stuck it in our parking lot. We were right.

    Not a great car, but decent cheap wheels.

  • avatar
    turf3

    I spent some time in a rental unit some years back. It wasn’t really that slow, but you had to drive it like an Italian – foot down to the floor at all times. In fact it was downright perky with only the driver in it, right up to about 65 mph at which point all the “go” was gone. I gave three guys a ride to the airport in it and the added weight made an enormous difference.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I gave three friends a ride in my 1988 Taurus L, with the 2.5L I-4 and 3 speed auto. One was over 300 lbs and the other two were 250 lbs easy, each. It was not a fast trip. Especially up a steep hill. The 2.5L begged me for mercy, but I held it to the floor, barely topping 35 mph.

      I had two friends in my old 2.0L Camry, it made a difference as well. They were both over 200 lbs and you could feel the car was noticeably slower, and the handling was even worse than usual. Lots of leaning in corners, with some front-end plowing.

      Keep in mind, I weighed about 150-160 lbs at both times.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Of course Harlan Ellison drove one of theses GEOs for many years-(CA license:HE)
    I had been reading Ellison’s work since 1978 and liked the commercial also. He now has a late 40s Packard which you can find in an Ellison Wonderland “home” video on YouTube!

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